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Blackboard Ally

Blackboard Ally provides support for making online materials accessible in Minerva.

Colleagues working on teaching materials in Minerva have access to Blackboard Ally to help understand the accessibility of files uploaded to Minerva (PDF, Word, PowerPoint, OpenOffice/LibreOffice, Uploaded HTML, Image files.) Academic staff and other content producers can use this tool as they prepare module content for their teaching going forward, for most this will mean focusing on 20/21 Minerva modules.

Blackboard Ally should be enabled automatically in your module or organisation after a file is added. If you cannot see Ally, please contact the IT Service Desk.

Blackboard Ally has three key features:

  1. It will identify content with accessibility issues
  2. It will show staff how to make their content more accessible
  3. It will also automatically give students access to files in multiple formats, such as braille, html and mp3 audio.

The tool will show staff an accessibility indicator next to module files, staff can then click the icon to access on-screen advice on how to fix the accessibility issues identified. There are two ways the icon may appear:

The Ally indicator, highlighting if a file needs accessiblity improvements

The Ally indicator, highlighting if a file needs accessiblity improvements

Staff can also access a module accessibility report which highlights accessibility issues at a module level and indicates issues which are quick to fix. This is accessed via the Module Control Panel (Module Tools > Accessibility Report):

Link to the ally accessibility report

Students only see options to download alternative formats of files, they do not see any indication of how accessible the files are (icons or reports). Alternative formats are available for these file types: PDF, Word, PowerPoint, OpenOffice/LibreOffice, Uploaded HTML. You can read the Student Ally guide to understand the student experience.

The Alternative Format download icon provided by Ally

If you need to show your Minerva module to students during teaching, consider using the Student Preview function so that students don't see the Ally accessibility indicators.

Online Resources

Files at Leeds tend to have the same accessibility issues. The most common accessibility issues on Minerva are listed below. Follow the links for guidance on how to resolve the issue.

  1. Contrast issues (Blackboard guide)
  2. Images no description (Blackboard guide)
  3. No language set (Blackboard guide)
  4. PDF not tagged (Blackboard guide)
  5. No headings e.g. h1 in word (Blackboard guide)
  6. PDF missing title - see editing Metadata of PDF section (Michigan State University guide)
  7. Tables missing headers in doc (Blackboard guide)

Blackboard provide some useful guidance on Ally:

General help on creating accessibile documents is available:

Training sessions

No training sessions are available at present. However, we have made available a video of the training presentation, slides from the session and a screencast showing how to use Ally.

These resources were distributed at the session:

Need help?

For any technical issues with Ally, please contact the IT Service Desk.

If you have any accessibility questions, please see the Digital Practice website related FAQs. If you have further questions, your School Academic Lead for Inclusive Practice (SALIP) ​may be able to advise.